By JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Pawhuska artist's tees send political message
Right or not, nothing's wrong with Ryan Red Corn's business.
"I'm to the left," the politically minded artist from Pawhuska said recently. "Not that the Democrats escape my wrath."
Red Corn, who heads Red Hand Media, is also the creative force behind Demockratees, an online shop of satirical and political T-shirts.
Fresh out of college, Red Corn started Red Hand Media, whose clients are almost exclusively American Indian, he said.
While majoring in graphic design at the University of Kansas, Red Corn made T-shirts for a couple of events, he said. He'd also been working at House of Blues in Lawrence and did a few rock posters.
"If you're in that scene, you're really close to T-shirts," Red Corn said. And eventually, he started making more T-shirts at friends' requests.
When he had multiple prints of one T-shirt design left over, Red Corn investigated potential outlets for his work and eventually found a guy in Spain with an online political store. The shirts were sold wholesale, and the company soon wanted another shipment.
Immediately, Red Corn became back-ordered,
he said. So once he grew a bit more Web-savvy, he created his own site, Demockratees.com, in August 2005.
Since then, his shirts have been sold in 10 Urban Outfitters, and one was on an episode of "The O.C." -- his "Petrolcide" tee, which shows a stick figure holding a gas pump nozzle to the side of his head. That one's a big seller, especially when gas is high.
"They're definitely conversation starters," admitted Red Corn, who has about 30 different T-shirts on his site.
Red Corn's interest in politics goes back to childhood. He remembers his father, a songwriter, sitting around penning lyrics with his buddies. He grew up listening to news radio and reading the paper, taking a particular interest in political cartoons.
"Really, that's kinda what I'm doing," explained Red Corn of his T-shirts. "Take an idea and strip it down to its rawest, purest form so it can be understood, then slap it on a T-shirt."
A few of his T-shirts include "End Poverty," which has the tuxedoed Monopoly man flat on his back in a pool of blood; "Bring Us Your Poor," an outline of the United States in barbed wire; "Eco-Terrorist" scrawled on the back of an SUV; "Retire Indian Mascots" over the mouth of a recognizable big-league talisman; and the "You Got Beef?" shoot-out between a gun-wielding cow and a farmer. That last one, as well as a few others, are printed on natural sustainable edition organic cotton.
Red Corn realizes his T-shirts might not be for everyone. He's even received hate mail.
"A lot of times, people confuse the idea of speaking out against the status quo with being anti-American," he said. "But that's the way to celebrate being an American."
The T-shirts are $16.50 plus shipping and handling, and most are printed on high-grade jersey cotton from California-based American Apparel. Youth, and double and triple XL sizes are made by a company in Missouri.
"I try to keep it cheap because a lot of college kids buy my stuff," he said. "I want working-class people to be able to buy my stuff, too."
For more information, or to order one of Red Corn's T-shirts, visit www.demockratees.com.
Jason Ashley Wright 581-8483
Demockratees.com on the O.C. November 2006
Our Petrolcide shirt was spotted on the O.C.! at demockratees we found this to be quite humorous that one of our shirts would pop up here of all places